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The Mandarin Salamander FAQ (continued)

by Marc S Staniszewski

Egg Deposition & Care

Females then undergo a 7 - 21 day period of ova development (although sometimes even though a successful pairing is observed no eggs are subsequently laid). She then begin to search in the water for suitable egg-laying sites. In all my own successes, eggs have been adhered in small clumps of 10 - 15 eggs to the side of partially submerged rocks. The normal quantity is within the 40 - 60 range although as many as 100 eggs have been reported. Eggs are about 2mm diameter with a yellowish nucleus.
Although Zimmerman reports that eggs should be removed to rearing tanks, I have found this to prove fatal with many eggs spoiling as a result. Therefore I recommend that eggs should be left in situ for the time being although the aerator part of the pump should be switched off as this may prove troublesome to the resultant larvae. I have never known adults to devour their own eggs as mandarin salamanders rarely take food underwater.

Hatching and Larval Care

At a water temperature of 65 - 70F. the larvae hatch in 10 - 18 days and measure approximately 9mm in length. Allow them to grow on for a period until they are 15mm at which point they should be moved to a large aquaria with about 4 inches of gently aerated water and plenty of oxygenating plants such as Elodea. Initially yellow, they soon turn darker. Food consists of live paramecium, daphnia, brine shrimps, tubifex and bloodworm later turning to Asellus, tiny strips of raw beef, chopped earthworm and inevitably small waxworm! Mandarin salamander larvae are notoriously slow developers taking between 110 - 150 days to metamorphose. During the later part of development the bony ridges and colours begin to become obvious although vivid coloration will not develop until they are six months old. On metamorphosing they measure approximately 1.9 - 2.5 inches (4.83 - 6.35cm) and must be given easily egressable sections of land. Most emerge with remnants of their gills and can be moved to plastic containers of damp Java or sphagnum moss where they will feed greedily on waxworm. Maturity is attained in the second or third year.


In line with most caudates, mandarin salamanders are relatively resistant to disease. However there are two ailments which occasionally crop up which must be treated in the early stages. Needless to say not only should infected animals be isolated but also the aquarium from where they are taken should be thoroughly disinfected.

Swelling of the digits commonly known as 'bumblefoot'.

Caused by an undescribed bacterium (probably Pseudomonas) which affects the digits and limbs of mandarin salamanders, these swell to an excessive degree causing much discomfort and eventually the affected area will either split or drop off. If treated with a tropical fish compound such as BSB (Broad Spectrum Bactericide) such as that produced by TAP (Technical Aquatic Products), the condition can be arrested and reversed. Place three drops of the BSB in a pint of water and bath the infected salamander in this for ten minutes twice daily.

Mouth Rot & Skin Rot

Necromatic tissue is commonly seen around the jaws

Almost certainly caused by the either the bacterium Flexibacter coulmnaris, Aeromonas hydrophilia or Pseudomonas vectors, this disease is seen in the form of mouth erosion (especially the lower jaw) but can also spread to the ventral surface, cloaca and underside of the limbs where large open sores are prevalent. Continual treatment by bathing the infected specimen twice daily for 5 - 10 minutes in a strong solution of the Finrot/Mouthrot compounds frequently sold for tropical fish. 5 drops in a pint of water should suffice. I have found that the Interpet and Waterlife compounds are excellent in this respect. Once the disease clears up, treatment should continue for a further four weeks to prevent reoccurrence.

Necromatic tissue can prove fatal around the limbs and cloaca

Badly infected specimens may require a course of topical or injected antibiotics such as a 2.5% or 5% solution of Ticarcillin, Enrofloxacin or Baytril. Unfortunately such antibiotics can only be acquired on prescription (at least this is the case in England) and are extremely expensive.
If correctly treated Mandarin salamanders will not only survive such disease but will show complete recovery with entire limbs or a new jaw being regenerated. However it is cannot be stressed how important it is to treat such diseases early. Sometimes it is better to euthenase particularly badly infected specimens which have lost most of the head, torso or cloca.

The charming but ultimately endangered Black Crocodile newt
(Tylototriton taliangensis)

I acquired a number of rare but very beautiful black crocodile salamanders (Tylotriton taliangensis) which where saved from slaughter in a Chinese food market in the town of Luizho, Eastern China. Occurring in a small area of the southwest mountainous subregion of the western Himalaya's, China, this species is far more streamlined and aquatic and proves to be an extremely 'friendly' species in captivity. Unfortunately it is also near extinction and I would only recommend experienced keepers to attempt this newt as it will not tolerate temperatures above 60F.. Attaining 7.5 inches (19.05cm), its dorsum is a inky black with bright orange markings present on the parotid glands, digits and lower tail. I keep my specimens in a very cool aquaterrarium complete with slow-running water (to which I add a 12cm diameter cube of iced rainwater on a daily basis) and a mossy platform with cork bark hides. I have seen my specimens in a Pleurodeles-like amplexus on several occasions but I know my females are not yet properly conditioned (watch this space for details of eggs and larvae as and when they arrive!). Whenever I walk into the room, one or more specimens will poke their heads out expecting a morsel (which they usually get in the form of waxworm, slugs and earthworm.). All in all, a charming, but alas difficult species (unless temperatures can be kept low).
So far I have I have not kept any other species of genera Tylototriton or Echinotriton. However, future trips to Chinese food markets in the next year or so may provide me with further surprises.

Literature Cited;
Studies on Chinese Salamanders (Zhao/Hu/Jiang/Yang) SSAR Publication 1988
Amphibians in Captivity (TFH) - Marc Staniszewski (1995)


All text and photo's - Copyright ©1996-2000 Marc Staniszewski - Most recent revision: 02/03/00 - Amphibian Information Centre

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